Call For Help Leads To Arrest

Dale Quinn, Arizona Star (Tucson), May 2, 2007

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Mary Lovina Najera, 38, was arrested for her suspected role in harboring 48 illegal entrants, said Lori Haley, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman.

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When deputies went to her home in the 10400 block of South Epperson Lane, near South Old Nogales Highway and East Summit Street, Najera told them she saw her husband fighting with someone on their property.

She tried to intervene and her husband broke free and ran to the back of the property, where he was shot and forced into a sport utility vehicle, according to court documents.

Deputies found a trail of blood leading from a tree on the property to a gate next to a dirt road. They stumbled on the 48 illegal entrants as they surveyed the back of the property.

Najera’s husband, Rito Najera, 43, is still missing, said Detective Sgt. Jesus Lopez with the Sheriff’s Department robbery and assault unit.

Investigators are looking into whether the family’s involvement in human smuggling led to the kidnapping, he said, but they haven’t determined a motive.

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The Najeras’ son, Rito Najera, 19, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of human smuggling, Haley said.

Detectives searched the Najeras’ property on Thursday afternoon and uncovered evidence that the family was involved in human smuggling, Barkman said.

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